The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

The Fresh and Onlys: House of Spirits (Mexican Summer, 2014)

Balas de Fogueo

La principal apreciación que se me ocurre oyendo este nuevo trabajo de The Fresh and Onlys es que, de golpe y plumazo, han dejado de ser Frescos, y desde luego, no son, para nada Únicos. Algo que, desgraciadamente, y aprovechando el chiste fácil, ya comenté allá por diciembre del año pasado en TJB.
Su música transita, sin más, por un piélago de influencias ochenteras, del Folk-Rock, pero, desgraciadamente para ellos, casi nunca pasa nada. Quiero rastrear algo interesante de sus antiguas andanzas garajeras en Hummingbird, pero cualquier vana ilusión se evapora al instante.
Desgraciadamente, su música no creo que vaya a convertirse en himno generacional ni siquiera en buenos recuerdos para amantes del Indie. Puede convertirse en carne de recopilatorio anual de algún sello, en pequeño hipster, o en el sonido ideal para el hilo musical de algún centro comercial molón.

“House of Spirits finds the Fresh & Onlys in a gloomy place. It’s a spooky, desert-rock answer to the Cure’s Faith, another record awash in both reverb and metaphysical turmoil. “The point of forgetting is so you can live,” despairs Cohen on the chilly “Animal of One”. “The purpose of living is harder to find.” The Fresh & Onlys’ music has touched on downcast themes before, but in the past, these bummin’ sentiments were often tempered a touch of self-effacing humor. Here, Cohen’s gonzo imagery and weirdo-narratives feel more earnest in their evocation of hard times.
To be fair, there’s been a lot going on for the Fresh & Onlys’ over the last couple of years: most of the band’s San Francisco garage rock comrades have split town, bassist Shayde Sartin’s apartment burned down, and Cohen had a kid and temporarily re-located to an isolated Arizona horse ranch, where he demoed most of the record’s songs. On prior LPs, the rest of the band—Sartin, guitarist Wymond Miles, and drummer Kyle Gibson—took Cohen’s home demos and pushed them into headier territory, transforming a mostly acoustic track like “Tropical Island Suite” into the 7-minute centerpiece from 2010’s Play It Strange. OnHouse of Spirits, the divide between the singer’s folksier solo output and his work with Fresh & Onlys has gotten a little harder to spot. With it’s clean guitars and bobbing rhythm, “Ballerina” could have easily slotted into River of Souls, Cohen’s latest effort with his side project Magic Trick.
On the second half of House of Spirits, the mood leavens a bit. “Hummingbird” and “April Fools” find Fresh & Onlys sounding a little more like their old selves—and if the bulk of House of Spirits is lacking a bit of urgency, the band compensates in other ways. When they were still recording the bulk of their music at home, the Fresh & Onlys worked fast and as a result it sometimes seemed like the clock was working against Cohen’s lyrics, which recycled or smudged only a few words from verse to verse. House of Spirits, then, contains some of his most uniquely weird and vivid work, whether he’s contemplating supernatural-style domestic unrest on “Home is Where” or reconciling abandonment issues with a demonic possessor on “Who Let the Devil”. Album closer “Madness” finds Cohen reflecting on an LP’s worth of emotional unrest with a touch of nostalgia. “Madness has a heart, letting me rejoice in the most peculiar things,” he sings. “Your occurrence in my heart, giving me a voice, is the most beautiful thing.”
When the Fresh & Onlys’ released their first 7″ back in 2009, the band was preoccupied with scuzzy psych-rock homage. Since then, they’ve covered more grounds than most of their Bay Area peers, swapping in stylistic nods to the gothy end ’80s LA punk and ’80s UK guitar rock.House of Spirits doesn’t bring much in the way of sonic surprises beyond a few drum machines and synths, but it does find the band making subtle changes to its M.O., delivering a set of songs that’s less urgent, but—in a freaky-yet-endearing way—more personal” (Pitchfork)

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18 octubre, 2014 - Posted by | The Fresh and Onlys

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